Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Article excerpt

T. Hurley of Pittsburgh writes: I am sick of spam! Sick of it, do you hear me?!?! Make it stop! Please make it stop....

techman responds: I look into my Magic 8 Ball and it says, "Very doubtful." Sorry! But do you know the top three ways you put yourself in spam's way? If you have a Web page with your e-mail address on it, that page can get "spidered" by a program just looking for addresses. Likewise, if you post to lists or groups, those archives often wind up as Web pages that can get "spidered." Lastly, hackers or their viruses can get access to institutional directories or local contacts and gobble up all the addresses there to use or share with spammers. My workstation guru friend Lisa says you might try a trick that people have been using for some time: Don't format your e-mail as a conventional address. Instead of "asktechman@dscottbrandt.com," I would post as "ask techman at dscottbrandt.com"--humans can interpret what that means, but most programs won't. (And if they do try to use it, it won't go through, obviously.)

Cheers,

techman

Mike W. of Duxbury, Mass., asks: Hey Techman! Can a robot shelve books?

techman responds: Well, I know that Sony, Fujitsu, and the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan have all recently developed robots that can run, jump, kick, or flip. Maybe people in the library schools at Syracuse or Michigan can start working on robots that can stretch and shelve books!

I once heard that the Harvard Book Depository had a robotic system that could retrieve books based on location by bar code, but their Web site (http://hul.harvard.edu/hd/about-hd.html) doesn't really describe anything like a robot. Richard Boss describes technology that provides "computer-driven robotic retrieval of densely stacked storage," which is probably as close to it as libraries have yet come. The Monroe County Public Library (Bloomington, Ind.) used to have one--called a "Rand Retriever," I believe--but it looked more like something out of a dry cleaner than out of Star Wars.

Hey, I started out as a shelver at the Allen County Public Library in the 1970s, and I know it can be a tedious job. I used to try to imagine having a conversation with each author to liven up the somber task.

For more on automated systems, see: http://www.ala.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PLA/Publications_and_Reports/Tech_Notes/ASR_Systems.htm.

Cheers,

techman

R. …

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